Most people know that it is far less expensive to retain an existing client than secure a new one. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, it can be 5-25 times greater. At the same time, service providers benefit from loyal clients as they engage more and spend more with those they trust.
While existing relationships are often nurtured through account management functions, most sales people I work with use a traditional method to secure new business. They work diligently to establish a relationship with a targeted customer through demonstrating value, then earning trust. When properly executed, new business can be secured, which is wonderful. Hurray!
Most times, the new business secured is a one-time event, such as an individual brokerage transaction or tenant improvement build-out construction need. Sometimes, a preferred relationship can be established, where the vendor is prequalified and gets notified when a new opportunity arises. This too is terrific in that the sales cycle doesn’t have to start over for any new opportunity. The downside, however, is the service provider and sales team often have to wait for the phone to ring.
When this occurs, the impact is notable. Sales team members and account leaders can’t predict when the new business opportunities with these existing clients may arise. This Pipelines and goal achievement can then become challenged. Operating teams can’t proactively plan resource needs to execute the work. Financial teams can’t determine what the P&L impact will be to meet monetary goals and further invest in company initiatives.
So, is there a better mousetrap? Yes, there is…and it is called being a Strategic Partner.
Being a Strategic Partner enables you to learn about what is planned and budgeted for the coming year so you can best support the client and plan accordingly.
It involves the right set of circumstances as follows:
The client must have ongoing needs where your offering solves their requirements.
You have an audience with key company decision-makers who define and implement strategy.
A track record of success and trust with the client has been established.
When these criteria are met, I highly recommend partnering with your client to better understand and anticipate upcoming activity. The following proactive sales process outlines this approach:
Credibility – You need to demonstrate the added value to the client of having a seat at the table. You can look at past projects or others that are similar for other clients and determine how planning in advance together would provide better alignment and outcomes.
Plan – Once this is established, you can sit, listen and learn. Value can be added by suggesting timeline and cost to deliver so they can better anticipate when monies are to be spent, resources deployed and benefits to be enjoyed. A robust plan to serve the client can then be developed and shared.
Execution – Without excellent execution, you lose the credibility you worked so hard to secure. Make sure to measure against agreed to KPIs, report and adjust accordingly.
As a long term service provider to Delta Air Lines, I was privileged to understand their business and associated real estate strategies both on- and off-airport for more than a decade.
We established this credibility delivering three call center locations in a turnkey fashion in a very challenging nine month time-frame. This included one build-to-suit. My team and I were able to deliver because we met with senior business leaders at Delta who shared the strategic importance of these projects and their commitment to working with us closely to execute. We were the right solution because we had a fully integrated approach (incentives, transactions, design & construction, contracts) that enabled strong accountability and reduced cycle time and cost.
Subsequent to this successful initiative, we were able to meet with them each year and plan for ongoing work effort.
If you wish to get further integrated with your clients where you can become a more value-added partner and create more sustainable and consistent sales, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-633-2260.